How I got into the best shape of my life after having 3 kids

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By Tatiana Boncompagni

You know those celebrities who seem to get their pre-baby bodies back within weeks (if not days) of giving birth? Yeah, that wasn’t me.

After having each of my three kids it was a struggle to fit back into my pre-partum jeans. The extra pounds would fall off quickly, at first, but then the weight loss would slow and then stop altogether. No matter how much exercise I did or how careful I was with my diet, I couldn’t seem to lose that last bit of flesh around my midsection and upper arms. And then I would just get pregnant again.

After baby number three, I sort of gave up. I stopped weighing myself, threw out most of my old size 4s and numbed the pain of my non-elastic waistbands with plenty of Sauvignon Blanc. (My joke was that with every kid, I added a glass.) I still exercised—a lot, actually, and mostly for stress relief—but you couldn’t really tell by looking at me. I had a mombod. There, I said it.

Not feeling good in my clothes was one thing, but what I hated most about my shape was that I was making such a big effort to be healthy (I even ran a marathon), and that wasn’t reflected in my outward appearance at all. I mean, at all.

postpartum fitness Tatiana

And then I met Heather Marr, aka The Model Trainer. For those of you for whom that term is not familiar (98 percent of you), model trainers specialize in training models, as in the goddesses you see walking the Victoria’s Secret runway and staring out at you from the decks of magnificent yachts in magazine advertisements. I, a mere mortal, only got to train with her because I was writing a story about her techniques for a women’s magazine where I was working as the food editor.

Within a few weeks of following Heather’s diet and fitness program (she believes you have to make changes in both to see results), my waist, which I hadn’t seen since giving birth to baby number 2, was back, and my arms, back and legs were more toned.  Finally: progress.

How did Heather do it? First of all, she completely overhauled my diet. We increased the amount of lean protein I was eating so my energy and hunger levels stayed more even throughout the day, and we took out all the so-called health food—actually just high-sugar junk (granola bars and smoothies, I’m looking at you) I was eating. She also taught me how to stop thinking of food as a source of comfort or as a reward. No more face-planting myself in a bowl of ice cream and hot fudge after tucking in the 5 year-old for the 40th time that night.

With my workouts, Heather had me doing less, not more. Before I would spend hours in the gym running or taking cardio classes. Now I worked out smarter, focusing on moves that would help shift my shape, build muscle and increase my resting metabolism (muscle burns more calories than fat).

Every day Heather would send me a workout to follow that included some body-weight exercises like “model” burpees  (Heather has a specific way of doing them to really tone the abs and pull in the waist) and “the deathcrawl” or some exercises with dumbbells, like squats and lunges. As I grew stronger, she encouraged me to use heavier and heavier weights, which I’d been afraid to do in the past out of fear of getting bulky. The opposite happened. The heavier the weights I lifted, the leaner I became.

tatianalean

I actually think I have a better body now than I did in my twenties before having kids. I’m stronger too—in the ways you can see and the ways you can’t (this time I mean this in a good way). I may not look as perfect as those social media fitness stars—I have loose skin around my midsection that no amount of model burpees is going to get rid of—but that doesn’t stop me from celebrating and tracking my progress on Instagram .

The thing is, if I didn’t have that wonky belly button, I wouldn’t have my kids. And my kids are what make everything—especially getting in the best shape of my life—worth it. But so am I—worth it, I mean.  I know what it’s like to feel not so great about your body, frustrated with yo-yoing weight and overwhelmed by all the conflicting information out there.

Heather took the guesswork out of my health and fitness plan and helped me reclaim my confidence. And now I want to help other women feel as great about their bodies as I do about mine. Especially moms. Because when you’re a mom you know that what really matters in life isn’t measured in dress sizes or numbers on a scale. It’s about feeling empowered and happy, loving those you hold most dear—and yes, yourself, too.

Please share your postpartum fitness successes, failures and frustrations or indifference with us here.

All photos courtesy of Tatiana Boncompagni

 

TatianaBoncompagniTatiana Boncompagni is an editor and writer based in Manhattan. Before co founding Tone and Style, she was the food editor at Self magazine. Her writing has appeared in dozens of publications, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Marie Claire, Vogue, InStyle and Town & Country and she has appeared on television networks such as CBS, Bloomberg, and the BBC. Tatiana created The Model Trainer Method: Real Bodies. Super Results, a diet and fitness ebook guide, with Heather because she believes that all women deserve to feel happy, strong and beautiful, and that women’s fitness is — at its very core — about female empowerment. She is the mother of three children.